RU undergraduate research highlights Summer Research Celebration


The field, lab and library research activities of 20 Radford University undergraduates this summer took center stage in the Hurlburt Student Center Auditorium on Sept. 17.

In poster and oral sessions at the second Summer Research Celebration, the 2014 class of Undergraduate Research Scholars discussed their research work in art, biology, business, chemistry, education, geology, geospatial science, mathematics and psychology.

"This is a chance for the students to talk to and learn from colleagues in other fields and they gave a true showcase of the breadth of research possibilities available to RU undergraduates on and off campus," said Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholarship (OURS) Director Joseph Wirgau. "It is a wonderful look at how these students are becoming scholars and scientists."

Two keynote presentations, four poster presentations, and 13 oral presentations made for a full and diverse program.

"They are becoming more competitive in the market for jobs, as well as graduate and Ph.D. opportunities," said Assistant Professor of Psychology Dayna Hayes. She was looking on as Analise Roccaforte, a senior psychology major, fielded questions about a project to study the combined effects of nicotine and alcohol on spatial memory in rats. Roccaforte will be part of a seven-person team, under Hayes' direction, that will soon present the research to the Society for Neurosciences annual conference in Washington, D.C.

"I have never been so focused," said Raymond Bosivert, a senior finance major, "It has been a great chance to challenge what I have learned in the classroom and to learn how to do it."

To understand the value added of a professional fund manager, Boisvert, in conjunction with Associate Professor of Finance and Accounting Abhay Kaushik, is researching comparative yields of mutual funds with high and low expense fees.

While Boisvert's research entailed combing the literature, setting up data sets and running computer models, Josh Oliver, a senior geospatial science major, worked on a project to help water resource managers anticipate the ebbs and flows of regional stream flow. He hopes to develop a historical model of annual rainfall based on an analysis of core samples of trees taken in nearby forests.

"We only have rainfall data from flow gauges back to 1940, but using tree rings, we can go back as far as 1748," he said. To assemble the data from which he hopes to recreate a picture of water's scarcity, Oliver looked at more than 10,000 tree rings and measured them to within .0001 of an inch in the Tree Ring Lab in Cook Hall.


Keela Dooley, a senior studio art major, presented her work at the second annual Summer Research Celebration.

Melissa Brett, a senior geology and physics major, spent two months this summer as part of a team measuring ice depth and movement of glaciers in Alaska's Juneau Icefields. She summed up the value of her extensive research experiences by saying, "Undergraduate research has been a really important part of my career. I have made progress as a person, as a student and as a scientist."

OURS will soon be accepting applications for the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships for the Summer 2015. To learn more, contact the office at

"Original research and scholarship are important for developing a deep and practical understanding of any discipline," Wirgau said. "Now is the time for an undergraduate to explore the opportunities available here at RU that can transform student to scholar."

For more on these and other RU student research experiences, visit the Radford University OURS Facebook page. More stories and activities of RU undergraduate researchers and scholars can be found at the Scholarly Research. Outreach. Engagement. (RU SCORE) Facebook page.

Sep 23, 2014